Teenager given two-year sentence for running over grandmother who was fostering him

Marcia Grant, 60
Marcia Grant, 60, died when she tried to stop the teenager from stealing the car - South Yorkshire Police/PA Media

The family of a grandmother killed by a 12-year-old boy she was fostering have said they feel “completely let down” as he was sentenced to two years in custody.

Marcia Grant, 60, was run over by the youth with her own car outside her home as her husband, Delroy, pleaded with the child and attempted to smash the Honda Civic’s window and drag him out.

On Wednesday at Sheffield Crown Court, the boy, who is now 13, sat quietly as he was jailed after previously admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

The charge of murder was dropped by prosecutors after he entered the guilty plea to the lesser charge in October.

The boy told police he had been “a gangster since he was nine” but had never driven before and struggled to control the car.

In a statement following the hearing, Mrs Grant’s family criticised the Crown Prosecution Service and its “lack of willingness” to charge their mother’s killer with murder.

They added: “The last eight months has been torture, our anguish only to be compounded by the reduction in criminal charges brought against the defendant charged with the death of our mother.

“We strongly believe that the evidence on hand shows a complete disregard for human life and clear premeditation to do serious harm.”

Mrs Grant, who had been a foster carer since 2016, had only been looking after the defendant for several days before she was killed.

Her family criticised Rotherham Metropolitan borough council, claiming it played “a critical role in the circumstances which led to our Mum’s death”.

‘Looks like I got my first kill’

The court heard that on the night Mrs Grant died, the boy took car keys and a knife from the kitchen, put on a balaclava, and crept out to the car and tried to drive it away.

Mrs Grant ran out of her house, located in the Greenhill area of Sheffield, shouting “someone’s taken the car”.

Her husband followed her outside moments later and realised his wife was on the ground behind the car after being knocked down and hitting her head.

He then saw the defendant in the car holding the steering wheel.

The court heard he began pleading with the boy to stop the car and not put it in gear, shouting that his wife was behind the vehicle.

Eye witnesses said they saw Mr Grant banging on the window of the car, and eventually breaking it with a brick.

Mark McKone KC, prosecuting, said the boy “claimed to have been a gangster since aged nine” and had a number of disagreements with Mrs Grant’s husband before the killing.

When he was arrested after trying to run away from police, he told a policewoman: “I’m going to f------ kill your family and I don’t give a f---.”

At a previous court hearing in April, prosecutor Gary Crothers said that after being arrested, the boy said: “Is she dead?” and “Looks like I got my first kill.”

In a later police interview, which was read out in court, the boy said in a prepared statement: “I was in a state of panic, I did not know [Mrs Grant] was behind the car, I never intended to hit her or cause her any harm.”

He said he had a good relationship with his foster parents, but he “missed his family and wanted to be with them”.

He added: “I decided I needed to be with my mother.

“I was worried if I travelled alone I could be attacked so I took a knife from the kitchen for my own protection.”

A psychiatrist told the court the comments made at the time of his arrest should be considered “misguided childish bravado” and he had since expressed sincere remorse.

Richard Wright KC, defending, said there was “no doubt” the killing of Mrs Grant was a “grave crime”.

However, he said that the welfare of the boy moving forward was “paramount” adding that he was “thriving” since being remanded in custody in April.

Lives ‘shattered’

Mrs Grant’s family read out victim impact statements in court.

Her daughter, Gemma, said she had “frequent flashbacks of Mum being trapped beneath the car”.

She added: “We will never forgive [her killer] and we will carry this trauma with us always.”

Mrs Grant’s husband did not feel able to attend court for the sentencing, with Gemma explaining he now suffered with PTSD and depression.

Mrs Grant’s son, Shaun, said: “[The defendant] put the car into reverse, put his foot on the gas and in a matter of moments shattered our lives to pieces.”

Sentencing the boy, the judge, Mrs Justice Juliet May said: “The offence you committed was serious but it was not murder,” adding that it was a “very bad accident”.

Nicola Curley, the director of children’s services at Rotherham council, said an independent review into the circumstances surrounding this case will be carried out.

She said the Grant family would have the opportunity to contribute to the review.

Malcolm Christy, the district crown prosecutor for CPS Yorkshire & Humberside, said the death was a “tragedy”.

He added: “Due to the seriousness of the case, an immediate charging decision was required, and the defendant was initially charged with murder under our ‘threshold test’.

“Following further investigations by South Yorkshire Police – including a reconstruction of the scene, expert reports and witness statements – we reviewed our initial decision and concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction for that offence.”

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